Monday, April 30, 2012

Matelea flavidula: Fact, Not Fiction

April 20th – April 27th, 2012. We found Matelea carolinensis (Maroon Carolina Milkvine) and Matelea flavidula (Yellow Carolina Milkvine) in both Hancock and Jones counties within a day of each other.

In each location, it was uncanny that the petals of M. flavidula resembled those of M. carolinensis in shape and size. The petals of both species were shorter at the…

Hancock County site than at the…

Jones County site.

In addition, we found vines of M. flavidula, climbing the same stems intertwined with vines of M. carolinensis in both…

Hancock County, and in…

Jones County (Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge).

At one point, I even became a little paranoid – like you do when you have a find that’s too good to be true - that the M. flavidula flowers might just be a nonpigmented variant of M. carolinensis. Particularly since the ‘Name that Plant’ website shows a photograph of a non-pigmented variant. I actually unwound a couple of vines a short way to verify that the maroon and green flowers weren’t on the same vine; they weren’t.

We found M. carolinensis alone at several locations but never M. flavidula alone. I was going to be a lot more relaxed about these finds if I could find M. flavidula not associated with M. carolinensis – even though this wouldn’t be absolute proof that the green flowers weren’t a non-pigmented M. carolinensis.
We did find a M. flavidula vine alone, a little way along the road from the first vines.

A cluster of flowers along the vine.

A closer view of the cluster. The flower clusters were denser than other clusters we’d seen.

Individual flowers had the same reticulate pattern as the other flowers.

This vine could have originated from the patch along the road, or vice versa, since the seeds are very buoyant and could travel considerable distances from the seed pod.

After we left this site, we traveled more than a mile almost due west along another rural road that wound its way through fields and pine woods. We past several patches of matelea vines that were not blooming - very probably Matalea gonocarpos. Shortly after we turned north, we spotted…

a single plant on a roadside bank under a canopy of trees that was blooming. The blooms were green. We couldn’t reach the plant without a lot of effort so contented ourselves with a...

photo, taken with a zoom lens, that was sufficient to confirm that this was M. flavidula. And not a M. carolinsis plant in sight.

My paranoia has been dispelled, especially since we have now found a non-pigmented M. carolinensis plant and its petals are distinctly different from those of the M. flavidula plants we’ve found. But more of that next…

Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification resources:

Alan Cressler: Matelea flavidula

- Houston county:
Short petal and long petal
- Cook County

Name that Plant. Natural and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Matelea flavidula (Yellow Spinypod)

- USDA Plants Database: Matelea flavidula (Yellow Carolina Milkvine)

- University of North Carolina Herbarium: Matelea flavidula

Related Posts
- Jones County, Georgia: Yellow Carolina Milkvine (Matelea flavidula)

- Hancock County, Georgia: Yellow Carolina Milkvine (Matelea flavidula)

- Maroon Carolina Milkvine (Matelea carolinensis)

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